Don, you da man!

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Sun, 2011-09-25 09:28

Don Brash calls for decriminalisation of cannabis

Act leader Don Brash is calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis.

He says prohibition of the drug hasn't worked, and policing it costs millions of tax payer dollars and clogs up the court system.

He's told TVNZ's Q&A programme there are other ways to restrict the use of marijuana.

"It's estimated thousands of New Zealanders use cannabis on a fairly regular basis, 6,000 are prosecuted every year, a $100million of tax payers money is spent to police this law," says My Brash.

- Newstalk ZB

Brash backs marijuana decriminalisation

Act Party leader Don Brash wants the personal use of marijuana decriminalised.

Brash this afternoon gave a speech on law and order to supporters at Waipuna Lodge in Auckland, as his party continues to grapple with internal ructions.

"I have to say, after long and painstaking reflection, I have come to have serious questions about our current marijuana laws," Brash said.

"Apparently, a majority of New Zealanders think this law is an ass."

Brash said he was "haunted" by the thought that a lot of police time and resources could be better deployed by keeping people safe from "real criminals intent on harming us".

An estimated 400,000 New Zealanders regularly used cannabis and harmed no one except, arguably, themselves, which was their prerogative in a free society, he said.

"The police and the courts spend some $100 million of taxpayer money a year enforcing this prohibition of a drug believed by many people to be less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Is there really any point to this?" Brash said.

"I hasten to add I do not advocate or approve of marijuana use. Unlike Helen Clark and Peter Dunne, I haven't ever tried it and I have absolutely no intention of doing so. But I have to ask myself by what right I would ban someone else from using it, or support a law that does so, especially when I'm leader of the political party in New Zealand that is most committed to personal freedom."

In his speech this afternoon, he said the party's policy on law and order was still a work in progress and he was only outlining "the kind of thinking" that would shape it.

"I'm not saying it's now ACT policy to decriminalise or legalise marijuana. I'm simply saying it's my personal view that we should give the idea serious consideration as there are some strong arguments in its favour - arguments supported by some seriously sober and responsible national and international leaders," he said.

Under former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer - "hardly a dope-addled hippy or wild-eyed radical" - the Law Commission had in April recommended allowing cannabis for medicinal use and substituting a cautioning regime for criminal penalties in non-medicinal cases, he said.

Brash also outlined a push for the right to self-defence to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights and for more work on victims rights.

- Stuff

MP backs out of smoking joint

Marcus's picture

MP backs out of smoking joint

"The leader of a new left-wing party in Poland threatened to light up a joint in Parliament yesterday but in the event burnt incense instead.

Janusz Palikot announced the stunt as part of his campaign to get soft drugs legalised. However, his plan put him on a collision course with the Speaker, Ewa Kopacz, who refused to let him break the law in parliament.

She reported him to prosecutors, and in the end, Palikot lit incense sticks containing a tiny amount of cannabis. They emitted a scent of burning marijuana, but Mr Palikot, who is introducing a draft law that would decriminalise the possession of small amounts of marijuana, said they were purchased legally."

Brash invited to join pot party

Richard Goode's picture

Brash invited to join pot party

If Don Brash gets rolled as ACT leader – a scenario allegedly outlined in the infamous teapot tape – he's welcome to join the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

ALCP leader Michael Appleby has invited Dr Brash to stand for the pro-cannabis party at the next election.

In September, Dr Brash revealed that although he'd never used the recreational drug, he backed its decriminalisation because it would save the country $100 million a year.

''Apparently, a majority of New Zealanders think this law is an ass," he said during a speech on law and order.

ACT's Epsom candidate John Banks – a former Minister of Police, and the party's only hope of getting back into Parliament – rejected Dr Brash's views, saying he would never vote for the loosening of drug laws.

Hence the ALCP's invitation.

"Dr Brash has not used cannabis but has reviewed the evidence and says there is a compelling case for relaxing the cannabis laws, saving $100 million on police enforcement costs each year," says Mr Appleby.

The ALCP leader has also called for the release of the teapot tapes.

"When a high ranking candidate has a conversation with the Prime Minister about matters of public interest in a public location there is no expectation of privacy," says Mr Appleby.

Biggest mistake of the campaign

Richard Goode's picture

Damn shame!

Olivia's picture

Dr Brash admits it's been his biggest mistake of the campaign.

I thought it was Dr. Brash's sanest moment of the campaign. Seems to be no room for boldness and sanity in this country's politics.

I'll never forget John Banks's counterpoint to media over this issue, the "not on my watch" mantra. The man is pure mongrel, he just oozes it from every pore. Shame Brash has to kowtow to such folk.


Richard Goode's picture

Brash confesses cannabis call a blunder

ACT leader Don Brash confesses his call for the legalising of cannabis early in the election campaign was a major blunder.

The comments caused some turmoil for ACT at the time as they were immediately contradicted by the party's Epsom candidate John Banks.

Dr Brash admits it's been his biggest mistake of the campaign.

"No question about that, I should not have talked about it, it isn't ACT Party policy, it hadn't been approved by the board," he says.

"I had recently read the Law Commission report on this issue and it seemed like a good thing to raise at the time, it was irresponsible to do that and I regret making that mistake."

Newstalk ZB

"keeping us safe from real criminals intent on harming us"

Richard Goode's picture

ACT leader questions marijuana laws

Police time and resources could be better deployed "in actually keeping us safe from real criminals intent on harming us", he said.

About 400,000 New Zealanders were cannabis users and that was their prerogative in a free society, he said.

He drew on a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy which, two months ago, said the international War on Drugs was a failure and recommended governments explore legalising marijuana and other controlled substances, he said.

"They reported that drug prohibition has had devastating effects on individuals and societies all around the world and said the War on Drugs as we know it should end."

What better way to keep us safe from "real criminals intent on harming us" than to vote them out?

In a brief statement today a spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said: "National has long held the view this would be a step in the wrong direction".

Police Minister Judith Collins said ACT's cannabis policy was going in the wrong direction.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said Dr Brash's calls to decriminalise marijuana was dangerous.

"A weak-kneed approach to marijuana use will simply send all the wrong messages that small amounts of drug use or dealing aren't that big a deal."

I'm weak at the knees over Don's approach to marijuana use. Small amounts of drug use or dealing aren't that big a deal. And nor is saying so.

Legalise cannabis

Richard Goode's picture

"Brash back to peddle his divisive policies," said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei in a press release earlier this year.

She's not wrong that Brash picks issues that polarise! If you thought "one law for all" was polarising, check out (e.g.) the comments on the Stuff news item above. ("I cant believe any traditional ACT supporter would agree with this new policy." "Right on Brash, you've just secured my vote.")

I'm backing Brash to peddle more of his divisive policies. Let's not suppress fundamental issues. Let's debate them!

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